Oh, Lyssie. I shouldn't have waited. I should have got down on one knee last New Year's Eve, I know now that's what you were hoping for. It's too late now, of course, but I hope you know that I truly did love you.
When you showed up on my doorstep this morning, birthday cake held out in front of you as a peace offering, I was so relieved to see you that I didn't think it might just be too good to be true. A lover's quarrel such as ours can rarely be forgotten easily. On any other day I might have been suspicious, but you'd made the cake yourself. The thought of licking that sublime trademark frosting of yours from your fingertip eclipsed any other worries in my mind.
It didn't seem curious to me that you didn't want even a single bite. Some womanly reason, I'd assumed at the time; watching your figure, although of course I'd protest that you needed to do no such thing. There wasn't even an aftertaste the way you might expect. Just blackness.
Do you remember how we met? Of course you do. The black and white ball at your parents' house. You, the centre of attention as always, stunning in virginal white, and you have no idea what that did to me. Me, ill at ease in my rented tux, uncomfortable in my surroundings as usual, intimidated by the waiters and string quartets and marquees. Only there to be the fresh face of the charity after old Lawson got done for embezzling. I was surprised that you even deigned to speak to me. That you fancied me came as the biggest bolt from an impossible blue.
I can still taste the strawberry frosting when I wake up. It has made my lips sticky, and as I lick them I realise how thirsty I am. I notice a lot of other things at this point. Such as, the fact that I have been stripped of my shirt and tied to the headboard of my king sized bed. I don't feel any pain until I look down and see the blood on my chest. A series of angry-looking cuts, pinched and sore like bite marks, criss-cross my torso.
"Lyssie?" You're standing next to the bed, summer dress creased and smeared here and there with something red (for some reason, I don't make the immediate connection - my blood).
"Lawrence." You say in response. Nothing more. A simple invocation of names, confirmation that we are still the same people that we were yesterday, and the day before.
The instrument in your hand resembles a comically oversized pair of hairdressing scissors. No, that's not right. As you take a step closer, I can see my own shade of red dripping from one tip. Pruning shears. Secateurs. French, fancy.
"Every rose," you say softly.
"What?" I can feel my heart beating, hot and anxious, beneath the cuts on my chest.
"Every rose." You say it with conviction this time, but your meaning is lost on me. My mind is too preoccupied with my bound wrists, my bloodied chest, the girlfriend hovering over me like an angel of death, too preoccupied with all these things to ponder Lyssie's riddle.
You drag the shears across my chest again - at first all it does is chafe the skin. Then the pressure increases, and I see your petite hands clench the handles together, scraping the insides of the blades against my ribcage. I cry out, but it is only partly from pain. Mostly, I just want to know why you're doing this.
That's a lie. I know the reason you're doing this. But I must admit, your actions have taken me by surprise. Lyssie is such a sweet girl; who knew she had this in her?
You were always my better half. Made me good, more than I once was. But not, it would seem, good enough. I wonder how you found out about the other woman. Not that it matters much now. It hardly even seems worth asking - too late Lawrence, much too late.
My better half. Who could have predicted that all the time this monster was trying to better himself for his angel, she was falling down to earth. Deeper, ever deeper.
Oh, Lyssie. The beauty to my beast. You know what they say.
Every rose has its thorn.